Thank you Jess, i enjoyed that, do you have any more from Shelly Powers.
by Patti Parry (with Lee Dawson)
First published 2004
LD - Where were you born in England?
PP - I grew up in Stanford Hill on Upper Clapton Road with all my
family there and it
was lovely and as a kid I used to go to the super theatre on the hill
and I used to
see all the American Cowboy movies with Roy Rogers and when we
America in 1953, we got off the QE1 and I expected to see Cowboys and
LD - Ok, you arrive in the USA in 1953...
PP - Yeah, we went to Buffalo, New York and my father hated it,
London, we moved to Chicago for a year and then we came to California
have been here ever since. I go back to London almost every year to
Next time I am over I will have to visit you guys.
I told Elvis the truth, I was there for 17 years and those guys
adopted me, I was
everyone's little sister.
LD - You were with Elvis when the Beatles paid a visit weren't you!
PP - I was yeah.
LD - What can you tell us of that meeting?
PP - First you have to realise something... I got into gospel music, I
say that I am
the only Jewish girl that knows every gospel song there is.
I wasn't into the Beatles, in fact I wasn't into Elvis Presley until I
met him, you know
.... But they came up to the house and they were very quiet and all
they were doing
was just staring at him and Elvis was getting uncomfortable and so he
guys, if all your gonna do is stare at me, I'm gonna go to bed!" and
broke the ice and so they started playing music together and had a
game of pool
But! That meeting didn't make such a mark on me, the thing which made
a mark on
me was when we did a concert in Long Beach and Led Zeplin was there
right! And I
go back stage and Elvis whispers to me "Who are these guys?" so I say
know!" so he says "Patti, your from England, talk to them", and so I
sat and talked
to Jimmy Page who was so brilliant, he was like a scholar you know. So
I was more
impressed at our meeting with them than the Beatles.
LD - It a tragedy the meeting between Elvis and the Beatles wasn't
PP - Listen honey, there was never a tape of anything darling. You
know, in all the
years I was with Elvis, I never even thought to take a picture with
LD - Yeah I know, you always hear from some quarters, If this person
that person was so close to Elvis why isn't there more pictures of
together?" Which if you were around Elvis all the time you don't carry
camera around, I don't think I have one picture of me with my cousin
PP - I know, I mean what do these people think? That I was gonna get
Elvis to have
his picture taken with me all the time? I mean we were family you
I know that Joe [Esposito], bless his heart took pictures of
everything which is
fantastic because we have a record of everything, but I never did.
In fact one of the only pictures I have with Elvis was taken in Vegas
and he had just
got off stage and looked terrible, he said "I dont want this picture"
and on the other
side was Linda Thompson right, so when I did the fan club thing I had
cropped, anyway, I saw Linda on the Larry King show and she had me
of the other side (Laughter!!!!)
It does break my heart that I don't have more pictures but I have my
that is more important to me.
LD - Did you ever go to many of the movie sets with Elvis?
PP - Yeah, the first one I went to was 'Kid Galahad' and he had a
were that was being shot, in fact one of my favourite memories of
walking into Elvis'
house was the smell of bacon, you always smelled bacon, so when ever I
bacon I think of Elvis.
I was also on the set of 'Wild in the Country' and also 'Viva Las
LD - So all the stories of the fun on set was true?
PP - Oh yes, but you have to remember that it was so boring on the
would do like 3 minutes of shooting and then 3 hours of moving sets
Elvis and the guys
You must remember, Elvis was a prisoner of his own fame. We could not
anywhere, whatever house we were at, there would be around 50 girls at
so we couldn't go out. We watched television most of the time, the
Dick Van Dyke
show or football, we watched a lot of football.
We had to make our own fun and we all had the same personality, we all
was going on in each others heads, we made our own fun.
LD - Did Elvis ever tell you he was tired of doing the movies?
PP - He hated doing them .... King Creole was before my time with him
wanted to be a good actor and he could have been a really good actor.
brilliant in King Creole but the Hal Wallis movies and the others just
cut to songs
and he hated them, he was bored!
LD - On the subject of the movies, Loanne Parker, the Colonels widow,
stated that Elvis never did a film that he didn't want to do. What is
opinion on that?
PP - Elvis and Parker had an incredible deal and he did the work he
to do and he did it. But I know he wanted to do better things.
I mean, he had a chance to do 'A Star Is Born' but Parker turned it
of billing and stuff but Elvis was very excited about doing that film,
he would have
been brilliant in that.
There were a lot of things he didn't do which he should have. I
remember one time
in Vegas, they wanted him to do a show for all the crowned heads of
Elvis made fun of that, he could just picture singing in front of this
crowns on their heads. Elvis was a funny man, a funny man, he had the
He was a good man, he loved his friends and we were good to him!
LD - Was there ever any jealousy from Elvis' girlfriends towards you?
PP - No, there never was. I was always there and when ever a new girl
came in, I
was introduced as part of the family. So they knew there was nothing
between us and to this day, Linda Thompson......I love, and indeed all
LD - Elvis took you on a personal tour of Memphis didn't he!
PP - Yeah, he said "Do you wanna come to Memphis for Christmas?" so I
there and I get to the house and I'm like, my god, I'm at
takes me on this little golf cart and I thought we would have this
nice little tour, but
this cart had like jet engines on it and he would fly through the
woods and stuff.
Well, he took me to Humes High and Sun Records and he took me to his
grave and the funny thing is I'm standing there and he says to me
standing on my Mother',' he had a very very funny personality.
LD - Lana [my wife] is so jealous at the fact the you were in the
the 68 Comeback.
PP - Have you seen me in that?
LD - No I haven't!
PP - Do you have the show?
LD - Oh yes!!
PP - I will tell you exactly were you see me, when he sing 'Trying To
Get To You'
and right after they pan the camera and there I am with my hair up,
big big dark
hair and eye make up and I'm wearing a white top. I was a babe then
(laughter). Every time he looks over in that special and laughs, he
was laughing at
LD - You had been around Elvis since 1960, what was it like seeing
there, doing the special and how was he feeling?
PP - He was so nervous about doing that show, but you know what? The
about seeing him back was that he loved entertaining. That was what he
When he came out in Vegas, I was there every night and when he walked
.... Elvis was different on stage to what he was at home .... He loved
and every show was different personality wise.
I remember one birthday, my whole family was with me at the front of
the stage and
he gets down on his knees in front of me and starts singing 'Love Me
I'm going "Get away from me, get away, don't embarrass me, get away
and he is laughing and band is laughing .... But he loved being on
LD - Quickly going back to the 68 special, do you remember what
mood was like after taping the show.
PP - He was so excited! He was stoked man! Nobody ever forgot him into
wanted to be, to be an entertainer, rather than a stupid movie star.
I love the movies, they are cute, but this is what he wanted to do,
this was what
made him happy and that show was the beginning of the rest of his
And think about it....BLACK LEATHER!! They're wearing black leather
was amazing, he had black leather outfits and he changed the whole
LD - Oh yes, everyone followed Elvis and still do!
PP - Exactly! The man changed the world of music and he changed a lot
he changed mine .... And yours too, look what you do and you're just a
LD - Of all the Elvis concerts you attended, is there any that really
PP - The Aloha special was amazing, he looked gorgeous.
LD - One thing about the Aloha special, Elvis looked absolutely
and your cut his hair for that one didn't you!
PP - Honey, I'm a really good hair cutter (laughter); What happened
was, he was in
Hawaii and he did the rehearsal show and he was not happy with his
hair and so he
called me up and told me to get to Hawaii and he flew me in and I cut
He looked great, I got there and he had lost weight and he looked so
We had the whole 30th floor of the hotel and we all hung out there,
but the sad
thing was that we were all out on the beach but Elvis was stuck in his
couldn't go out. He really was a prisoner of his own fame, it was very
LD - It is very sad and it must have been so frustrating for Elvis?
PP - It sure was, I mean, we had a great time. In Vegas we were like
couldn't go out and when we did go to see a show, we would have to
show once it had started and leave before the end.
I remember when the Righteous Brothers were on stage, Elvis kept
the stage behind them and the crowd was going wild! He did it just to
But we had a lot of people come to the suite, all the stars and such
LD - You still have your TLC necklace!
PP - That will never come off my neck darling!
LD - How did Elvis actually present them to you guys?
PP - What happened was, there was a place on Beverly Drive in Beverly
Swartz's jewellery shop and Eivis would go there and buy jewellery.
The man was
amazing, when he went shopping, everybody would get something, if he
something, he bought everybody something. He once gave me a Jewish
always wore a Jewish star and a cross because he said he didn't want
to get shut
out of heaven on a technicality.
LD - I have always thought that is a great way of looking at religion.
PP - Elvis loved the Jewish religion, but anyway, he just wanted
everybody to have
something, and he designed something that would show we were all part
family and he gave TCB's to the guys and TLC's for the girls.
LD - I have a TCB and I treasure it, Elvis never gave me this
like you I never take the thing off, it means a lot to me.
PP - Listen darling, I love that you love my friend, it's really
special too me. People
like you keep him alive and I think it's amazing but it would boggle
Elvis' mind you
LD - I did an interview last year for BBC television and they asked me
do I do it? And all 1 cou1d really say was to say thank you to Elvis
everything he has done for me. He has given me so much happiness and
PP - That is so nice and that makes me feel so happy, that's what it's
LD - In 1972, Elvis wrote down his
philosophy for life for you.
PP - Yeah, Jimmy Velvet owns the original
now but I have a copy and it is in Elvis'
handwriting, I will send you a copy.
LD - Thank you, that would be really
nice! Why haven't you written a book
PP - The publishers want you to say really
nasty things and I won't do it, there are
really good stuff and my memories are the best. I love to talk to fans
so people get
to know the real Elvis...................Maybe one day I will, I don't
LD - The thing I admire more about Elvis, more than his singing is
search to understand everything.
PP - Elvis couldn't figure out why him? He loved being Elvis, he had a
great life but
he was a regular guy, he was just like us honey!
He took care of us and we took care of him but he couldn't figure out
why him? He
knew he was special. People ask me what do I think Elvis would think
of all this now
and I think it would boggle his mind?
LD - One of our readers, Deborah Shah asks:
"Hi Patti, I'm a Jewish girl too and I wonder what significance, if
put on the fact you are Jewish. For instance did you ever talk about
PP - He always wore the Jewish star and when I got married, he
because he was in Memphis and he said I wouldn't like to step on that
glass" so I
said "You couldn't step on the glass Elvis".
He had a real great sense of humour and he would call Israel, IS-REAL
and this is
funny, I swear I have never told anyone this before, he said to me one
know what Gods real name was?" so I said what was his real name and
"His name was Hallowid" So I asked him what he meant and he said, it
HALLOWID be thy name" (laughter!!!)
But he really respected every religion; he was a good man and a great
loved his Mom and he loved his friends, we were lucky, we were like
LD - Deborah also asks that she saw in a video that Elvis was a
human being and that he influenced you. In what ways did he influence
PP - He influenced me by how good he was to friends, he shared
Everything he had, we had. We got to share everything. He changed my
hopefully we changed his life too, you know!
I would give him so much stick, I would tell him the truth you know
and he loved that!
I never went on payroll, I was there as his friend but I would kick
his *** and tell him
the truth, he needed that but people on the payroll wouldn't do that
unfortunately I got married so I couldn't travel with him as much and
he was left
surrounded by a bunch of kids who he couldn't relate too.
He was just like you and me honey; I think about him everyday, I dream
people have no idea just how much I miss that man.
LD - The book which was written by Red West, Sonny West and Dave
Hebler. What are your memories of that?
PP - It divided us for a long time, but listen. Red was special to
Elvis and so was
Sonny. Dave Hebler was not really part of our family, he was new. It
was a long time
ago and I am sure Elvis would have forgiven them, I think they thought
doing something right! But it took me 25 years to get back in contact
but Elvis was a forgiving man.
Maybe they made the wrong decisions and the wrong choices but I think
thought they were trying to help him.
I really hate discussing that stuff but we were family, I have my own
feelings on that,
I know it hurt Elvis but forgive and forget. I would like you to talk
with Sonny and
Red one day.
LD - That would be good, I keep pushing John for that, oh and he
PP - I love Wilkinson
LD - His a good man isn't he!
PP - Oh he really is!!
LD - Did Elvis ever talk to you about the future, what his plans were?
PP - Not really, we lived day to day
LD - When was the last time you were with Elvis?
PP - I didn't see Elvis, probably 8 months before he died, I got
married, I married a
doctor and it was hard for him.
One day I told my husband "Do me a favour and don't tell anyone I know
see I lost my identity because everybody wanted to know about Elvis.
In fact, when I first met Elvis, everyone wanted to be my friend and
it got really
hard. I went to a shrink and I'm paying this guy $85 an hour and he
says to me, well
tell me about Elvis (laughter).
Hey Lee I think we should write a book!
LD - Good idea!
PP - I never took anyone to the house but I took my husband up and
Elvis said to
him in 15 years she never brought anyone here and if she loves you, I
love you" he
gave him a gold watch and stuff. But it was very hard for a man to
live up to Elvis, I
would be with my husband and Elvis would call and I would
hard for a man and Elvis was first and foremost in my life.
I really think we should do a book together Lee.
LD - I think we need to get that done.
PP - We should do
Guys like you make me so proud that you love my friend and honour him.
LD - Believe me Patti, on behalf of all Elvis' fans it is our
PP - He's up there looking down at all of us and he loved it!!
LD - Larry. in Iowa USA asks did Elvis wear a wig at the end of his
PP - No I don't think he did. Elvis had really, really fine hair and
when and what I
find funny is people say that all his supposed love children have his
hair and blue eyes.
I just say, Number 51 Clairol, Black velvet gave him his hair colour.
Elvis had sandy
blonde hair and we dyed his hair. But he had really fine hair and we
had to use a
lot of hairspray.
LD - Larry also asks, do you think Elvis truly understood how much his
cared about him and his music?
PP - Of course he did, he would never ever put down a fan. He loved
the fans and
appreciated his fans totally. I mean, he would get down into the
course he appreciated the fans. He knew where he came from and he
what he had and he shared that with everyone. He wasn't one of these
celebrities. He would talk to everyone and he would buy total
strangers a new car,
he was so generous.
LD - Patti, I think I should let you go now!
PP - Oh you're fed up with talking to me now? (laughter)
LD - No! No! I could talk with you all night.
PP ~ Ok c'mon, I'm Here, I'm ready, I'm hanging with my buddy!
LD - That's good of you!. When did you first notice it falling apart?
PP - I don't think it ever really fell apart, his mood was always
great but it was hard
for him, as I say, he couldn't go anywhere. Put it this way, if you
were locked in a
house and couldn't go out 24/7 it's really difficult.
He got mad sometimes but he would try and cover it and say sorry, he
was a good
guy, he was a gentle, sweet man. He was a baby, the guy was just like
you and me
darlin' he was my friend. People should learn from Elvis, he really
was an amazing
man, giving, loving and trusting!
Lee, what time is it there now?
LD - It's 2:05 in the morning
PP - It's very nice talking to you and I am so glad we got together!
And I hope that
we are going to meet one day! And you stay in contact ok honey
LD - Patti, I now know why Elvis loved you so much, you're a wonderful
PP - Thank you honey, that is really sweet of you, I appreciate that a
lot! And say
hi to Lana for me.
LD - We will meet soon. Goodbye.
Thank you Jess, i enjoyed that, do you have any more from Shelly Powers.
What a great interview , she really did think the world of elvis.
Thanks for posting jess.
That was a great read, I really like that woman, and you can tell just by reading her answers to the questions shes so polite and misses her friend terribly
And if she does decide to write a book (WHICH I HOPE SHE DOES) I will definitley be buying it. she is someone I would love to sit down and have a coversation with !!!!!